Love Medicine By: Kerstin Since the beginning of colonization of America, there has been the problem of dealing with the indigenous people of the land.
After the first attempts in eradicating the population, the American government changed its policy to integration. It is this integration into white society and the severance from the Indian culture that causes disenfranchisement in the modern Indian reservation. In Louise Erdrichs Love Medicine, the contradictory efforts to isolate the Native Americans on reservations and to make regular Americans of them are seen over roughly a fifty-year period. The Morrisseys, Kashpaws, Lamartines, Lazarres and others must define their relations to alien religions, customs, economic realities, and family and social structures. And over this struggle hangs a veil of alcoholism and despair. June Kashpaw was taken in by Marie Kashpaw and her family as a young girl and later moved with Nectar Kashpaws brother, Eli.
Though Native American definitions of family include various ties of friendship, including spiritual kinship and clan membership, June is treated as an inferior because she is not a member of a nuclear family, which is strictly a Western European institution. As a result, June leads an unhappy life of promiscuity while looking for a home and a sense of belonging. On the Christian holiday of Easter, June finds her home by dying in the snow. However, it is interesting to question whether Junes home is in the Christian-defined heaven or the afterlife believed in by her Chippewa ancestors.
Despite the lonely life that June led, she caused her son Lipsha Morrissey to live with the same feeling of alienation by giving her son away to her mother Marie. Lipsha also grows up without knowing of his ancestry and therefore feels incomplete. Added to the stress of this, Lipsha also feels detached from the white society by having the ability to use the old Indian medicines. Yet through the latter part of the book, Lipsha finds redemption from his disenfranchisement by finding the identity of his parents and accepting his talent. It is after he discovers this information that Lipsha crosses the river water and steps into his new existence. The character of Henry Junior not only illustrates the loneliness of not knowing ones father, but also of not belonging to the majority race of ones country.
Henry Junior is one of the seemingly infinite amount of sons which resulted from Lulu Lamartines friendliness. Due to this renowned trait of Lulu, Henry Junior was never quite sure who his father was. Yet Henry felt no connection with his fatherland either. In fact, fighting for the white mans war in Vietnam was inevitably the cause for Henry Juniors death.
The atrocities committed during the war were never forgotten by Henry Juniors conscience and it isnt until his suicide in the river that his guilt and alienation is lifted. The intervention of so-called western culture to the Indian population of North America has created a society of indigenous people that struggle to belong in their homeland. Louise Erdrichs Love Medicine brings these struggles to light through the use of dramatic characters and their interactions with one another. Unfortunately, solace from this disenfranchisement arrives mostly through the death of the human body. Bibliography Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich Word Count: 532 Words/ Pages : 546 / 24